10 Easy & Inexpensive Screen-Free activities for the family


So many parents are looking for fresh ideas for screen-free activities for the kids, particularly now that it’s getting warmer. And I get it! I mean, it’s not even the end of March, and I’ve heard it 100 times a day: “Can I have my tablet?” As soon as they get bored, my kids’ first instinct is to turn to screens, and well me too, actually. But you know, balance, school holidays, weekends!

So why don’t you print out this list to hang on the fridge, or or jot your favourites down in the diary. It can be handy to look at every time your kids tell you they’re bored. It’s can be surprising to see how much potential for creativity and imagination our kids  really do have in them.


1. Read a book. I know, it’s so obvious. Encourage kids to read a book outside some of their favourites or introduce them to some of your old faves. And, of course, there’s always a trip to your local library to inspire ideas, ours often has little crafting events, bookbugs and a lovely play area.

photo of boy reading a book

2. Take a walk. The ultimate screen free activity for kids? Head down to the corner to the local cafe, take a ball to the local park, or hit a nature trail near your house (going on a bear hunt, anyone?). Enjoy some fresh air and take time to notice things you haven’t seen before, we make lists of things we have to spot and tick each one as we see them. Just get out for a bit, and an adventure of some kind often manages to entertain. Don’t forget your wellies!

wellies jumping in muddy puddles

3. Decorate old or inexpensive furniture. The children love helping with the painting of our old furniture when we re-did our bedroom – if this is too much mess for you, a simple bucket of water and a paint brush on a fence will keep them amused for ages.


4. Erase alphabets from the glass door: This is another fun one! So you take a washable marker and write alphabet letters on your patio or balcony glass door and then you give them a wet cloth or a wet paper towel or just a baby wipe and they have to wipe those letters one by one off the glass door. You could call the alphabets, or just let them lead the game themselves.

liquid chalk on glass

5. Sidewalk Chalk: This is one thing all kids LOVE, for a really long time. I see kids up to 8 yr olds love chalk, and it starts at 18 months – you might even see me having a go. And it’s one of the most independent and versatile play options for kids. And did I mention Cheap? Give kids some chalk, and set them on the patio while you work in the kitchen.

girl drawing with chalk on the pavement

6. Have a family game night. Go old school and dust off that Monopoly or Scrabble game on a closet shelf. Simple games like Jenga! and connect four suit all ages if some of the children are younger. Just watch out for the arguments that could follow.

Closeup Photography of Yellow, Red, Green, and Blue Chess Piece

7. Tick off that checklist. Get them to write their own checklist of what they need to do every morning – like have breakfast, brush their teeth, brush their hair, and then get dressed. Then get them to tick it off each morning.


8. Cooking or baking. Think this one screams “messy”? Think again! There are tons of healthy, heatless and non-labor intensive snacks your kids can make, like ants on a log (peanut butter and raisins on celery sticks) or fruit kebabs. But if baking is what they want, shortbread or scones are quick and easy…or you could always just get a box mix.

baking with children

9.Star Gazing. You don’t have to be an expert in astronomy to enjoy star gazing. With a little research, there is always something special happening in the night sky. You can print out star charts and look for constellations or use really handy free apps to project names and images onto the night sky using your phone!

Night Sky

10.Family Sleep Over. The good times don’t have to end with bed time when you have a family sleep over. Camp out in the living room as a family. Tell stories, giggle, and enjoy creating memories! This is one of our favourite things to do, we even pull all the mattresses and covers through and stay up late watching a movie. Add in making your own popcorn and facemasks, what a perfect night…don’t forget mummy’s wine!

young children sleeping

Of course, convincing your child to take a break from all that screen time will be tricky at first. But once kids see how much fun they’re having, it won’t require as much persuasion. The most important things to remember are:

  • Listen to your child. Let his or her interests help guide the activities you choose. Don’t force something that’s not a natural fit; keep trying until you find the activity that clicks.
  • Change it up. What a child enjoys tomorrow might not be the same thing he or she enjoys six months from now, so be open to cycling through a variety of choices. Even fun activities lose freshness over time. And most importantly…
  • Get involved. Any activity that provides quality time with a parent is time well spent and time that your child values. Showing an interest in what they like to do also provides a chance to hear about their day, elevates their level of engagement and forges open communication.

Remember: It only takes a little bit of your time to make a big difference.